Husband and I are wrapping up a vacation to the seaside towns in southern Maine. We did this before in the spring of 2009, and although we had a lovely time on that trip, we made a note to ourselves to go in another season to avoid the wet weather. So we chose September this year to avoid the summer crowds and drizzles of May, with the result being raincoats as our main piece of outerwear. The other repeat of our 2009 vacation is that we booked the same room in the same portside hotel now as then so we could see the ships and fog roll in while the seagulls buzzed the picture windows. This corner suite in the Portland Hilton is WAY more pricey than our usual vacay digs, but we figured even in the rain it was a magnificent view and a romantic gift we deserved to give ourselves.
On the way to Portland this trip, we stopped off in Portsmouth, New Hampshire for a night and used Husband’s Hilton honor points for a free stay at the hotel there. We would be staying two nights elsewhere in Portsmouth later in the week and we wanted to check out the town, in the rain of course. Portsmouth is even more quaint and picturesque than Portland with the same amazingly gracious and delightful people. And being sturdy Mainers, they were all clinging to summer in their sandals and cargo shorts covered by rain gear. It was like 58 degrees. Husband was in a sweater and fleece vest, and I bought a snuggly pullover at a Portsmouth consignment store. Smells like teen spirit and a typical trip to New England so far.
When we checked into the Hilton in Portland, Husband asked if breakfast was included like last time and was told no; that was probably a special for that weekend. I guess they looked at Husband’s puppy dog eyes and said oh, okay, here are free passes for breakfast. We looked at each other like, holy shit, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel. When we got up to our dream room, it felt damp inside so we turned on the heat. The vents in the bedroom blew warm, but in the sitting room with all the great views, they were stone cold. Management apologized profusely and sent up a maintenance man who gave way to a maintenance crew, all expressing sincere regret that the system was misbehaving. The manager asked to see Husband at the front desk, and as he walked out, he said he’d try to get us comped for the $15 a day parking charge. He came back shortly with a kind of goofy smile and I asked what was up. He said, “They offered to move us to a different room, but I said we booked this suite months ago because we loved it so much the first time. So they’re going to comp us.” I asked if that would be both days’ parking charge. He replied, “No, they’re comping us THE ROOM. And they feel terrible.” Which was too bad because we felt great.
The next day we drove up to Wiscassit and Boothbay Harbor for a few hours and loved both seaside villages, even more so because only forty miles north it was sunny. When we returned to rainy Portland, management told us somberly that maintenance had still not been able to repair the sitting room heating, so the suite would be ours again at no charge the second night. We were dumbfounded. In New York, they’d just send up an extra blanket and some tea bags. This Hilton suite was $400 a night times two nights, and I have to tell you that the room was perfectly livable and comfortable with the bedroom heat on and we really weren’t suffering. In spite of that, the manager kept thanking us for our understanding and apologizing like our dog just died.
We went out to a local seafood restaurant for dinner, and when the waitress asked us how everything was, we said it was terrific except there really weren’t any clams in the clam chowder even though it was deliciously clammy tasting. She returned with heartfelt apologies from the owner and coupons for free appetizers on our next visit. She also informed us that, of course, there was no charge for the chowder. How the hell does Maine stay in business?
With two days left of our New England adventure, we headed back to Portsmouth and checked into a downtown boutique inn located in a 130-year-old building that used to be a brewery. It was suitably funky and different, and what was also different was that the sun was shining and it was suddenly 80 degrees. Husband looked around the room, inside and out, and said, “We’re gonna pay for this, you know.”
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